Clint Eastwood’s bizarre vaudevillian conversation with an empty chair meant to represent an absentee commander-in-chief President Obama last week at the Republican National Convention is still earning the veteran actor and director a lion’s share of criticism. The fact that the “empty chair” speech isn’t going anywhere anytime soon has some media outlets wondering whether or not Eastwood’s RNC antics will hurt the opening of his upcoming film.
Eastwood’s talents as an actor and director are not on trial here. He continues to prove himself as one of the most creative veteran filmmakers in Hollywood. The question stems from balancing his success in Hollywood against his 12-minute speech at the Republican National Convention last week, and its subsequent viral pick-up. Memes abound, #Eastwooding is still a trending topic, and the @InvisbleObama account on Twitter show that the reaction to Eastwood’s speech hasn’t died out just yet. Will that prove disastrous for Trouble With the Curve when it hits theaters later this month?
“If you’re a Clint Eastwood fan, my guess is you’ll probably still go to see the movie,” said S. Mark Young, professor at the University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business and co-author of The Mirror Effect: How Celebrity Narcissism is Seducing America. “If you’re not, you might be very disappointed with what’s become of Clint.”
Young contends that despite the online mockery Eastwood is receiving, the public generally doesn’t hold odd public appearances against Hollywood stars when it comes to the box office. Remember Tom Cruise’s strange appearance on Oprah? Didn’t really hurt the actor too much at the theater.
“Unless someone has done something truly egregious, people are still going to go to the movies,” said Young. “If people go to see Trouble With the Curve, it’s probably not because they side or don’t side with Clint’s political beliefs. They’re going to go to be entertained, whether they like movies about baseball or just the stuff that Eastwood has done in the past.”
“What he did is not going to help him, but it’s certainly not going to harm him either,” said Scott Feinberg, a blogger for The Hollywood Reporter. “The fallout and embarrassment from what he did is probably punishment enough for Clint. Ultimately, I don’t think his 11-minute speech can undo his 50-plus-year legacy in Hollywood.”
Trouble With the Curve stars Clint Eastwood, Amy Adams, and Justin Timberlake. It opens September 21st. Are you going to see it?